Winter is coming

Six perfect winter scenes in anime

I spent a large part of my childhood in the north eastern part of Scotland which, to those who aren't familiar with the area would describe as “the middle of nowhere”. Those who are would likely nod and then call it something much worse. Summers were short and hot, the hills abundant and green and the winters biting and long. Water pipes froze, roads closed, and snow drifts towered over children sledging carelessly into them.

they wander from the warm light of the station into the vast, frozen night

It has a romantic appeal, being snowed in snug and warm beneath a blanket next to a crackling fire, until you actually want to do something productive like eat or travel anywhere. That child-like nostalgia persists however, so whenever a video game or anime does winter, I’m always searching for that ephemeral feeling that only a quiet, snowy vista can elicit.

Just having a good scene set during winter though doesn’t automatically make it a good winter scene - Guts versus Griffith (part two) takes place on a crisp, white morning and it’s understandably evocative, but doesn’t tickle memories of the past. Similarly neither does just setting a scene, or even your entire series, during winter - so Non Non Biyori, WWW.Working!! (the northern one), Noragami and Primsa Illya 3rei all feel frosty but don’t make the grade. And just faking winter snow is cheating, yes I’m looking at you Nagi no Asukara, salt flakes doesn’t count.

So to lead be example, here are six perfect winter scenes in anime.

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A review of the Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul anime series

The final ending card of *Rage of Bahamut: Genesis’ warned us: “I’ll be back”. For a time that seemed to refer to the indefinitely delayed Manaria Friends (not to be confused with your Italian food research group: marinara friends), until that is, Virgin Soul was announced. A direct sequel to Genesis with the same director - Keiichi Satou - and a returning cast of characters, would this new two-cour series be able to capture the same kind of adventuring fun that typified its predecessor?

an ambivalent desire for the original’s penny-dreadful-esque whimsy

Picking up ten years after the sealing of the Bahamut, humanity, under the new rule of King Charioce, have enslaved demons and begun to purge angels from their midsts. The fates of both Favaro and Kaisar are unknown and instead the impossibly cheerful and unusually brawny Nina takes centre stage. Unfortunately for her, she transforms into an enormous red dragon when coming into contact with a member of the opposite sex which has a detrimental effect on the buildings and people surrounding her when she does.

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Sakura Quest's exploration of rural depopulation

Sakura Quest is the most recent series from studio P.A. Works’ “earnest girls working earnestly” genre that it started back in 2011 with Hanasaku Iroha. Sakura’s story starts charmingly enough with the cherry-blossom haired Yoshino being mistaken for a singer from the 60’s and subsequently being hired by the tourist board as a representative of the rural town, Manoyama. Thus begins twenty five episodes of Yoshino and fellow cohorts Shiori, Maki, Ririko and Sanae trying to revitalise the ailing town.

begins to pick at the cultural mentality underpinning the town’s situation

At its heart, the series is about people fighting against the depopulation of a rural town. Once it moves past its initial two-episode stories of Yoshino attempting (and failing) with quick-fire tourist pulls, there are extended arcs focusing on the aging residents on the outskirts of town, as well as the perils of using flashy media pulls, alongside an undercurrent of resigned acceptance to the situation the town finds itself in. And what ultimately awaits it should the situation continue.

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A review of the Kizumonogatari anime films

It’s finally finished. It feels like I’ve been hearing about the Kizumonogatari movie since I finished watching the first TV anime, Bakemonogatari. In my reviews of past entries in its tangled timeline I was a lot more glowing in my praise than I remembered; but somewhere along the way I didn’t so much lose patience so much as lose interest in continuing with the franchise. I think it was somewhere around the first tranche of episodes for Owarimonogatari.

Kizumonogatari (Scarstory or Woundstory depending on your translator) however is narratively the first story in the now 23 light novel saga so its adaptation holds the potential for newcomers to be introduced to the franchise without its eight years of baggage. A trilogy of movies then, each around an hour long, telling the story of eternal straight man Koyomi Araragi’s first meeting with the mercurial vampire Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade, class president Tsubasa Hanekawa and oddity specialist Meme Oshino.

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